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Two iPhones and iPad used for NBC ‘Today Show’ off-air

By Malcolm Owen
Saturday, March 28, 2020, 01:56 PM (04:56 ET)

The iPhone has proven its usefulness in an unusual situation from home, with NBC Today Show host Al Roker revealing the use of two iPhones and an iPad as part of his long-distance broadcast installation.

Al Roker's iPhone Broadcast Setting (via @alroker / Twitter)

Al Roker’s iPhone Broadcast Setting (via @alroker / Twitter)

The Coronavirus has forced many companies and organizations to keep their employees at home wherever possible, with those affected set to do their jobs remotely. While many office-based roles can easily cross home-work environments, broadcasters must work with alternative ways to get their stars in the air and sometimes broadcast live.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Al Roker revealed his intention to broadcast for NBC’s “The Today Show,” which films live outside his home. Roker appeared in the air live during the show, which seemed to work as a typical broadcast for viewers, but the tweet showed that it was not a normal installation.

Roker recommended that he use a pair of iPhones to film his segments, with one iPhone 11 Pro as the main camera while the other was a “comeback.” Using applications such as LiveU, the live stream was sent from the iPhone camera directly to NBC’s server, with the recurring iPhone showing selected video streams and clips from the production, allowing Roker to have visual contact with other members of the team.

In addition to the dual iPhones, formed on tripods, Roker also used an iPad as a prompter, an LED light panel and a combination of a Sennheiser microphone and iRig hardware to provide sound.

LiveU is a live video transmission and streaming platform, one that NBC has long experience in using. After becoming shareholders in Euronews 2017, NBC News and Euronews discovered that they both used LiveU systems and have since begun sharing video files between the organizations on the platform.

Given the video quality the iPhone camera offers, as well as services like LiveU, it is likely that NBC has used similar iOS-based settings for external broadcasts in the past, or at least will consider doing so in the future.

As for home users who can live-stream on services such as Twitch or YouTube movie vlogs, the tweet shows that a relatively small collection of consumer-quality hardware can achieve high video production values.

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